The causes of dark or brown urine are many, ranging from benign to possibly fatal.

Benign Causes of Dark or Brown Urine

Have you eaten recently any of the following? Fava beans, rhubarb pie, black licorice, blackberries or dyed foods?

These foods can darken urine. The darkness in your urine, if caused by these foods, will take a few days to return to normal once you cease eating these items.

“Depending on the circumstances, dark urine is most commonly due to dehydration,” says Carolyn Dean, MD, ND – Medical Advisory Board Member, Nutritional Magnesium Association at

“But it may also indicate that an excess of potentially dangerous waste products are circulating in the body.

“For example, dark brown urine may indicate liver disease due to the presence of bile in the urine.”

If you continue to have dark or brown urine, check to see if you’re on any of the following medications:






Laxatives that contain cascara or senna

The following medical conditions can cause brown, dark or tea colored urine:

-Bleeding in the kidney, ureter or bladder

-Melanoma (urine color can be dark brown or even blackish)

-Acute glomerulonephritis, a kidney ailment that impedes a kidney’s ability to remove excess waste and fluids

-Liver disease, particularly cirrhosis and hepatitis

-Hemolytic anemia (abnormal breakdown of red blood cells)

-Tyrosinemia, a rare genetic disorder: elevated blood levels of tyrosine, which is an amino acid

-Rhabdomyolysis, a side effect from statin medications that causes muscle pain. Urine may be reddish brown or golden brown, a hallmark sign of “rhabdo.”

-Porphyria, a usually inherited disorder that affects the nervous system.

“Intense or excessive exercise can also create dark urine,” says Dr. Dean.

“Intense exercise can cause muscle injury that causes your body to release waste products in excess.”

-Copper poisoning

Dr. Dean says the following also can lead to brownish urine: “Biliary obstruction, gallstones, bladder stones, bladder cancer, jaundice, kidney cancer, pancreatic cancer, malaria or even the side effect of blood-thinning medications.”

When blood gets old, it turns brown, which is why the urine becomes this color when there’s old blood in it.

Another cause of darkened urine is urologic surgery or a urinary tract infection.

Self-Inspections of Urine

Make sure that you have adequate light when inspecting your urine.

Watch it as you void, and view the color in the toilet water.

The toilet bowl should be clean, and the water clear; not dyed from cleansers.

If anything appears concerning, then you should void into a clear plastic cup the next several times for a better inspection.

However, enough dehydration (even if you’re not thirsty) can make urine a dark yellow or even a light orange.

If you can’t connect your dark or brown urine to any of the above items that are not illnesses, then seek a consultation with a urologist.

Dr. Dean, in practice for 35+ years and author of “The Magnesium Miracle,” is also a naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist, acupuncturist, lecturer and consultant.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.  
Top image credit: James Heilman, MD 

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